Growing up Jewish, I didn’t celebrate Christmas. Hanukkah was all I knew. I always envied those who celebrated Christmas. I wanted Santa to come to our house, I wanted a Christmas tree, I wanted to be like everyone else.
I never thought I would experience Christmas.
Then I married a Christian. My Christmas dreams came true. Ever since our first Christmas, I have gone overboard in every way, decorating, traditions, music, we do it all. I am sure my husband hates it.
Each year we do our best to incorporate both Hanukkah and Christmas. We decorate our home with Menorahs, Santa, Stockings, Dreidels and of course my ultimate dream a Christmas tree.
Even though Hanukkah, is more mainstream than it used to be there still isn’t the same amount of decorations, events etc. as there are for Christmas. Over the years, I have finally come to terms with that. I am happily celebrating both.
I compiled a list of our favorite holiday traditions who both holidays.
Sending letters to Santa: Our local mall has a special red mailbox that accepts letters to Santa. Santa will send a personalized letter back to your child! If you are local to the Los Angeles area, The Point in El Segundo is currently accepting letters to Santa until December 10th. We dropped ours off last week and have not received ours back yet. Google to see if your local area does this as well.
Hanukkah party: Each year, I look up all the local Hanukkah happenings. In our area, there are a good amount to choose from, some free and others have a per person fee. We will be attending two events this week, at the Point (they have a lot of kid-friendly events) and at a local temple. If you are looking for Hanukkah parties in your neighborhood, check your local temple, they generally have them lots are free or have a small fee.
Gingerbread house decorating: Purchase a kit to help create a fun evening at home with your kid(s). You can either buy the kit with the house pre-made or have to build it from scratch. We built from scratch last year. With an anxious, toddler who is dying to decorate, I would highly suggest getting a kit with the house pre-made. We did that this year and it was so much easier and less whining waiting. Win. Win.
Light the Menorah Daily: We have several menorahs we light at home. Plus, the newest addition which looks like a princess castle for Dylan. She can’t wait to light it. Most areas will also have a lighting Menorah event daily at your local mall, temple, community. Check local listings to find out where to find yours. Local to Los Angeles, Century City Mall has one and so does Santa Monica Promenade, plus there are others around town.
Local tree lighting ceremony: Our local town, Culver City has a yearly tree-lighting ceremony where the entire small town comes out to watch the local kids chorus sing, the tree be lite, and enjoy free samples from the restaurants even popcorn from the movie theatre. (You can see Dylan and I at a tree-lighting a few years ago in the featured image above) It’s a fun free event to enjoy the spirit of the holiday with your community.
Decorate tiny Christmas/Hanukkah bush: Target has the perfect small trees for $3 for little hands to decorate. They also have tiny twinkle lights for $3, plus tiny glass ornaments for $1 for a box of 10. Twinkle lights come blue and white, maybe other colors too. This is the perfect mess free activity to do after school.
Elf on the Shelf/Mensch on the Bench: Elf on the Shelf and Mensch on the bench are basically the same thing, mensch is the Jewish version. We started doing the Elf on the Shelf last year, it’s somewhat of a pain in the butt to remember to move it daily and to think of new spots but it makes Dylan happy, so I am on board.
Decorating our home: While we do not have our Christmas tree yet, we have decorated our home with Christmas and Hanukkah with mini Christmas trees, Happy Hanukkah garland, window clings, Hanukkah signs, stockings etc.
Hanukkah and Christmas crafts: Target $1 and up section for the win. I picked up a ton of inexpensive craft kits for Dylan to enjoy. Michael’s also has a good selection and usually 50% off.
Dressing up your pet in holiday gear: One of my favorite holiday traditions from well before I had kids was dressing up my beloved cats in holiday gear. They have many customs– an elf, frosty, and of course Santa. We tend to use Santa the most and it could not make me happier.
Visit Christmas lights around your town: Drive around your neighborhood or go to an area you know has fantastic lights. In LA, we have Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills, where you can drive through the neighborhood and enjoy the lights, or El Segundo, were you park and walk, so make sure you dress warmly. And a bunch of others.
Matching PJs on Christmas morning: Give me any reason to match with my family and sign me up! We started this tradition when Dylan was a baby and now our Elf will leave them for us on Christmas Eve.
And no Hanukkah is complete without latkes! Either homemade, store bought or frozen (Trader Joes ones aren’t bad) ones you the holiday season is not complete without them.
I would love to hear about your traditions. What are some of your favorites? Comment below to share yours! I can’t wait to see what I can add to our list.